For years, the refractory period that prevents people from going for round two right after finishing round one in bed has been blamed on the hormone prolactin. The theory made sense — you release prolactin as sex ends, so it was a reasonable culprit for the phenomenon. But, as research recently revealed, we were wrong about that: Prolactin doesn’t interfere with horniness.
So, what now of all those prolactin suppressants on the market? And what even were those, anyway?
Though you’d think a pill that manipulates your hormones might at least require a doctor’s permission, prolactin suppressants are available over-the-counter. You can even buy them on Amazon. No matter the source, though, the actual contents of these supplements varies. For example, one of the Amazon-available options, Natural Anti-Prolactin Support from Supersmart, contains a blend of vitamins, herbs and adaptogens. The primary ingredients it touts are tocopherols (a compound of vitamin E), vitamin B6, zinc, Mucuna pruriens (a legume cited as an aphrodisiac and treatment for male infertility and stress), as well as ashwagandha, ginseng and maca. While none of these have been proven to be completely effective, they shouldn’t be harmful either, unless you have an allergy or take medication that interacts with an ingredient.
Other supplements are a bit more suspicious. Some, particularly those marketed toward bodybuilders, don’t even list their ingredients on their website at all.
Whether these supplements “work” is unclear, since we now know that prolactin isn’t responsible for most sexual woes, anyway. Perhaps they do indeed lower prolactin, but that result may not produce a noticeable effect. However, studies focusing on men who over-produce prolactin have found certain prolactin suppressants effective in remedying this.
As some of those aforementioned bodybuilder-targeting prolactin suppressants suggest, the products aren’t just designed for sex reasons. One description of a prolactin suppressant says that “often bodybuilders are faced with dealing with the effects of elevated prolactin. These effects include sexual disfunction [sic], growth of breast tissue and for some lactation. Obviously these are unwanted side effects that must be managed.” Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but those are all side effects of recreational steroid usage: Because anabolic steroids impact the production of hormones, some of these side effects could be the result of higher prolactin levels from the steroids themselves. Again, whether these supplements solve these side effects is unclear.
Regardless of the purpose, nobody needs a prolactin suppressant unless recommended by their doctor. If you suspect you’re over-producing prolactin, your doctor can perform tests to be sure and recommend safe treatments. Otherwise, you’re probably just wasting your money.